Vietnam Draft Dodger Donald Trump and his backup singers the Chicken Hawks
By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
Donald Trump’s first overseas trip last month featured many surreal moments, but the oddest visual—aside from the creepy glowing orb—was Toby Keith, the American country music singer, performing for an all-male audience in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In addition to his music, Keith is also famous for his pro-intervention views. “If there is something socially incorrect about being patriotic and supporting your troops, then they can kiss my ass on that, because I’m not going to budge on that at all.” After the September 11th attacks he released the song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” to celebrate the war on Afghanistan.
Toby Keith Serenades Saudi Royalty (Boys Only!)
Yet despite his strong opinions on the subject, Keith had no problem playing in Saudi Arabia, the country most responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center, to bolster Trump’s reputation. This means he has no issues with an autocratic regime that’s popularized its own brand of ISIS-like terror. In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 158 people, beheading almost all of them. Almost half of Saudi Arabia’s executions are for drug-related offenses, but it readily dishes out severe punishment for political dissent. That same year, 17-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was executed for attending a peaceful pro-democracy protest. He was tortured, crucified, and beheaded. Yes, the government of Saudi Arabia murders political dissidents by publicly crucifying them.
Keith also doesn’t seem to have a problem with Trump signing a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, despite the many war crimes they have carried out against Yemen. Not only has Saudi Arabia killed thousands of civilians via bombing, recent evidence shows that Saudi Arabia is deliberately targeting Yemen’s agricultural industry, purposely destroying the country’s farms. Maybe Keith can do an updated version of his post-9/11 hit cheering on these heinous attacks.
The hypocrisy doesn’t stop there with Keith. The man has grown rich playing mind-numbing tunes that encourage young people to go kill and die for Washington elites, but he has no military service of his own to brag about. On “American Soldier” he presumably imagines himself ducking gunfire in Iraq.
Justice will be served and the battle will rage
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
And you’ll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
‘Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass
It’s the American way
And I will always do my duty, no matter what the price.
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice.
Oh, and I don’t want to die for you,
But if dying’s asked of me,
I’ll bear that cross with honor,
‘Cause freedom don’t come free
Ted Nugent: How to avoid the draft
Keith’s contradictions mirror those of another Trump-loving musician: the rabidly right-wing Ted Nugent. While Keith vaguely implies he had better things to do than join the military, Nugent is a bit more straightforward. “I’d be a colonel before you knew what hit you, and I’d have the baddest bunch of motherf*ckin’ killers you’d ever seen in my platoon,” he once declared, “But I just wasn’t into it. I was too busy doin’ my own thing, you know?”
Nugent has proudly claimed that he avoided Vietnam by taking drugs, defecating in his pants, and acting crazy during his physical examination. In 1977, he explained to High Times magazine how he prepared for his induction physical:
I got my physical notice 30 days prior to. Well, on that day I ceased cleansing my body. No more brushing my teeth, no more washing my hair, no baths, no soap, no water. Thirty days of debris build. I stopped shavin’ and I was 18, had a little scraggly beard, really looked like a hippie. I had long hair, and it started gettin’ kinky, matted up. Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer—stuff I never touched—buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup. I was this side of death. Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants – poop, piss – the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.
“I was extremely anti-drug as I’ve always been, but I snorted some crystal methedrine,” he added. “In the mail, I got this big juicy 4-F. They’d call dead people before they’d call my ass.”
Years later, after repeatedly telling this story, Nugent the staunch conservative would back away from this history by claiming he had been lying. However, his draft records show that he was rejected for service based on his medical examination. Nugent has never offered an alternative, legitimate medical reason for his ability to avoid the draft.
Donald Trump: Chickenhawk-in-Chief
It makes sense that Keith and Nugent openly support Donald Trump, our country’s most prominent chickenhawk. Trump has no problem dropping bombs and stirring up international conflicts, but during the Vietnam War there’s no question that he dodged the draft.
After exhausting a series of college draft deferments, the President claimed he had “bone spurs” in his feet. With the help of the family doctor this “short term” medical issue lasted for four plus years. Then in 1972, his Vietnam draft records show that somehow this became a permanent service disqualifying injury. However, the “injury” would go untreated, and decades would pass before anyone mentioned the subject again. It wasn’t until Trump’s current doctor declared, “If elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” did anyone bother to ask how his bone spurs were doing. Trump admitted to the New York Times that he felt a “little bit guilty” for never serving in Vietnam.
Trump’s political career might have just started, but he joins a long line of chicken hawk lawmakers who have and continue to push war while being rich enough to avoid it for themselves.
Chicken Hawks, Draft Doggers and War Resisters
Muhammad Ali after being stripped of his title for conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. Photo by Carl Fischer, Esquire magazine, 1968.
I don’t have a problem with individuals, including Keith, Nugent, and Trump, refusing to fight in unnecessary wars of conquest. In fact, it’s the sensible and logical thing to do. Courage to Resist supports people that refuse to fight endless war for empire, even people we don’t agree with on many things. I doubt that someone in a land being occupied by US forces cares one bit as to why there’s one less foreign soldier busting down their door.
Organizations like Courage to Resist, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and the GI Rights Hotline, stand up for brave women and men who have become disillusioned with their role in the United States’ brutal foreign policy. Every year, soldiers question why they are being led into slaughter, why a certain country has been declared the enemy, or who the drones they operate are actually killing. To them, war isn’t something to casually brush off. It’s not a country song for people to sing along to in a packed stadium. For them, war is a hell that is to be resisted—often at great personal cost.
“No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over,” declared Muhammad Ali about the Vietnam War as he knowingly faced years in prison for refusing to fight. Ali was willing to give up his career and do jail time for his beliefs, despite his fame and fortune. Many did do jail time, and many more left their home to settle in Canada. Contrast this kind of sacrifice with the hollow pop-patriotism of the Ted Nugent’s and Toby Keith’s of the world.
Any person who is a proponent of a war while not enlisting and going off to fight in said war. A kind of hypocrite. Really, a chickenhawk is one who says: “it’s okay for other mother’s sons and children’s fathers to go off and get shot, dismembered and incinerated…
I agree that anyone who refuses to participate in an “unnecessary war of choice,” such as Vietnam or Iraq, be it Ted Nugget, Bill. Clinton, Mohammed Ali, Donald Trump, or anyone else, needs to be respected for their difficult, courageous and rational choice. Americans have not fought in a “defensive war of necessity” since our last legally declared war in World War II.
Great article, Jeff!
The present Insidious foreign policy, designed to benefit the few (1%) at the expense of the misinformed many, is about sustaining the corporate/fascist imperialist agenda which prioritizes the interest of the military industrial complex. This phenomena must be constantly challenged by freedom loving Americans who frequently recite a pledge ending with the phrase “with liberty and justice for all.”.
So… you stand behind everyone else who avoids war besides Donald Trump? Well that’s some brain gymnastics.
A chickenhawk is the world’s biggest coward
Don’t forget Dick Cheney and George W. Bush in this category!
Yes, they were in my first draft, but decided to go with a shorter article. It’s hard not to keep adding chickenhawks throughout American history.
More on the above attack on “draft dodgers” – I did military, draft, & vets counseling, Viet Nam – Gulf war eras. Also did counselor training, wrote for newsletters, spoke at public forums on these topics & on militarism. The disclaimer at the end of the above attack makes excellent sense. Therefore, why the attack? This WILL come back to bite you, because the clueless, manipulative liberals out there (who are all in love with the draft) WILL use this concept against the average man who doesn’t feel like being used for cannon fodder.
The SELECTIVE Service’s major task was to “store” the extra men in the population (always way more than actually needed for induction), hence deferments, higher lottery #’s, & lower priority selection groups.
Trump’s classification history is normal, average, typical. Born in 1946. RSN 356.
The army, not the draft board, is charged with giving the physical exam & certifying a man fit or unfit. Trump was found disqualified at his pre-induction physical, therefore classified 1-Y. If his doc’s letter got him out, it got him out. The army docs at the physical are not disposed to doing favors – are you saying they were bought off? Hard to do.
In 1972, his board changed his 1-Y to 4-F, prob. their own office quirk, as it was meaningless. He was too old for the lottery draft then anyway.
Ted Nugent describes “freaking out the army physical” to render himself disqualified – another pretty common tactic, not that unusual.
There are more rational ways to attack Trump without engineering an attack on the common man along with it.
Replying to my own comment above – more info. Looked up some obscure historical Selective Service info/regs & found stuff that I had (probably mercifully) forgotten. In Sept. 1971, a new draft law was signed, with many changes. The 1-Y deferment was eliminated, & draft boards directed to reclassify “permanent 1-Y’s” to 4-F. So Trump’s draft board did that.
As for any incidents of favoritism or privilege for certain people, this was not inherent to the Selective Service System, or to any other particular govt. institution. Probably any human endeavor is thus contaminated. Point is, availing oneself of legal options created by Congress, when dealing with govt. institutions, does not per se make one a dastardly villain. Do you take the standard deduction when doing your taxes? Take 2 exemptions for your 2 kids?
What was/is Trump’s public position on the Viet Nam war? If he had thought it “a noble cause,” he wouldn’t be the first “chicken hawk” – no shortage of those in any era, or now. Every time somebody tells me how they wish we had a draft again, I’m tempted to tell them, I support conscription for only one group of people – that is, the zealots who think other people should be drafted.
My article is not an attack on “draft dodgers.” It’s an attack on draft dodgers who go on to become cheerleaders for the war machine, including leading the war machine, happily sending off others to die in their place, metaphorically speaking. The individuals I discussed were not unique for their time, and their experiences with the selective service were run-of-the-mill, but today they are key players in our nation’s endless war enterprise.
My point was that even using the term “draft dodgers” is an inadvertent attack on the ordinary man who didn’t want to be cannon fodder, & who took the normal administrative routes created by Congress for SSS registrants. There are plenty of cheerleaders for war who were indeed themselves veterans. Does that make it OK?
People lump the every day SSS registrants in with the “masters of war” from ignorance about population statistics vs. numbers in the military, how the draft was used as a recruitment tool, who the anti-war GI & vet activists were (essentially all enlistees, not draftees), etc.
This is coming back to bite us, as many an average “liberal” out there now has taken up this retro attitude against “draft dodgers.”
That was the point of your excellent bit at the end above, CHICKEN HAWKS, DRAFT DOGGERS AND WAR RESISTERS.
Let a guy who got drafter in 1967 and ended up in the “Nam” in 1968 tell you the reality of the draft back in those days. They didn’t care what was wrong with you. They were going to take you anyway. I saw a guy get drafted at the induction center in Chicago with a patch over his left eye. He was blind in that eye, and when I told him they couldn’t draft him, he told me they already did.. When he got to Fr. Leonard Wood, Missouri the sergeant called the lieutenant over and told him the guy said he was blind in his left eye. The lieutenant told the guy to take the patch off his eye, and, sure enough, there was nothing in there. The lieutenant then said to everybody – “I want everybody to go have chow and when you get through, line up to the right of the buses, except for you (the guy with 1 eye). You get back on that bus. You’re going right back where you came from. ‘We don’t take no blind men in this man’s army.'” Nobody could make up a story like that. People like Donald Trump had their own doctors certify them as unfit, and although that didn’t prevent the induction center doctors from accepting their diagnoses, it was very persuasive.
this is not new
in goods wars as civil war u could buy your way out with 300 dollars in gold naturally as the poor then were poor whites particulary irish immigrants the liberals has no sympathy for them as poor blacks in nam.during WWII there were lots of chicken hawks ignored by history almost entirely.see execution of prinate sloviek as eddie sloviek was a poor white of polish catholic background he was not a tradgey as minorities in nam.my dad was in sloviek’s unit i served as a medic in nam.In WWII Elliot Roosovelt became a general and made a fortune war profiteering incidently abe linclon’s son spent thr
e civil war in college not front line at all also Trump did not want us to be in nam unlike mittromneny the point is this is nothing new and its only the politically correct half of story
As a naive college senior whose father had served in WW-II I felt it was my obligation to go Vietnam in 1966. I learned valuable lessons about the ends of violence and the utter futility of war. But at what expense? America had incredible advantage in terms of fire power and we killed over 1,000,000 Vietnamese and lost 56,000 of our own sons. I fully understand why people avoided participating in the obscenity of that enterprise. But those draft avoiders who 50 years later attempt to present a patriotic, bellicose personal image are worthy of my contempt. Trump is not a coward simply because of his “bone spurs.” He is a coward because he is a bully playing tough guy after the fact.
Female war-wimp/chicken hawks: Not all war wimps or chicken hawks were male. The 25 or so female Congress representatives who in 1980 voted to fund male-only draft registration for President Jimmy Carter never, to my knowledge, served in the military as volunteers, much less as draftees or reservists. May I also include on the list of war wimp/chicken hawks those men (and women) who supported the draft for others and who attacked those who dared to resist it? It is not fair to single out only those whose gender or age made them eligible for the draft, but who dodged it and decided to become hawkish in the process.